The consequences of a personal injury do not necessarily end at medical or repair bills: It could also affect your job. Not only are you accumulating additional bills to pay, you may also be losing income with which to pay the bills. The party responsible for your injury can be held accountable for your job-related losses, as well.
Loss of Income
Calculating loss of income is fairly straightforward: The amount of time you were unable to work due to the injury is multiplied by the income you would have earned in that time. The time you missed at work does not have to be consecutive nor clustered together—you may have had to take off a week or two immediately after your injury, but then the injury flared up three months later, resulting in a few more days of missed work. As long as you are able to establish that the injury was responsible for those absences, you can claim for loss of income.
Loss of Earning Capacity
Unlike the loss of income, which is based on actual losses, the calculations for loss of earning capacity are an attempt to predict the future. The core of calculating your loss of earning capacity is a comparison of what you might have earned were you not injured and what you will likely end up earning due to the injury. If, for example, your job requires a great deal of typing, but a permanent hand injury from a car accident slows down your ability to type or forces you to take more breaks from typing, and that results in lower wages for you, then that is a loss of earning capacity.
Calculating loss of earning capacity is more complex than calculating loss of income. You will need to prove how the injury affects your ability to perform on the job, and how much that would reduce your earnings. Furthermore, you may wish to prove that due to the injury, your entire career has been affected: Your ability to improve your skills has been reduced, raises may be smaller or nonexistent, and promotions may be delayed or denied entirely. Your earning capacity is not based on the expectation that you will continue at your current job for the rest of your life, therefore your employment status at the time of injury is not determinative of your potential for damages. Perhaps you were unemployed or underemployed, but if you are able to prove that you would have been able to find better employment, the calculations would take that into consideration.
These possibilities are difficult, but not always impossible, to establish in court. Especially for someone who is unemployed at the time of injury and therefore has no loss of income to claim, or for a person with a flourishing career who is severely impacted by personal injury, proving loss of earning capacity may be the only way to achieve full and just compensation.
Insurance is one way to mitigate the consequences of personal injury. Car accidents are a leading cause of personal injuries, and North Dakota state law requires $30k of basic, no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) insurance that can help cover your bills and lost income if you are involved in an auto accident. But if you believe that your injuries may impact your future earning capacity, you should seek a personal injury lawyer. The experienced attorneys at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss can help you navigate the difficulties in proving the many what-ifs necessary for you to recover what you deserve. Contact them today for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation, or call 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002 (toll free).